DR. WALLACE: I need your help. I have a good friend, who is grossly overweight. She is 14 and weighs over 200 pounds. (She admits to that). The problem is that this girl eats much too much, and she eats a lot of the wrong foods. I would like for her to start losing weight, but she won't listen to me.
What can I do to help her? I'm afraid she's going to have a heart attack someday. — Anonymous, Nashville, Tennessee
ANONYMOUS: School nurses are wonderful at handling this type of problem. Discuss the situation with the nurse, or if your school doesn't have one, talk to your friend's counselor, PE teacher or the assistant principal.
Your friend and her family need a lot of guidance concerning her diet, nutrition and setting up good eating patterns. Keep up the encouragement! Don't quit until you see with your own eyes that your friend is actually losing weight and eating properly. Of course, it would be great if you could set an excellent example for her, and you should strive to eat as many healthy meals together with your friend as possible.
TEENS MUST FEEL LOVED AND WANTED
DR. WALLACE: My daughter has asked me to write to you for your opinion on our rules for her. She thinks we're much too strict, but my husband and I feel she is being influenced by her friends too much, and at times, she is even rebellious. This is a difficult time for my daughter, my husband and me. Any advice will be appreciated. — Mom, Saint John, Indiana
MOM: "The biggest problem in managing a teen is lack of knowledge on the part of the parents — knowing what's important and what is trivial, when to stand firm and when to be more flexible." So said the late Dr. Robert Masland, who was the chief of adolescent medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and one of the leading authorities on this subject over the course of his illustrious career.
He said the key to parent-teen harmony is communication. Teens need to understand the reasons for the rules they are to follow, and if at all possible, they should be part of the decision-making process. When teens help set their own curfew, they are more likely to honor it. Most successful parents are superb listeners and are in total harmony, giving praise when warranted and discipline when warranted. Teens must feel loved and wanted 100 percent of the time. Setting reasonable rules and demonstrating excellent communication skills are the hallmarks of successful parents.
GET THIS TEEN TREATMENT WITHOUT DELAY
DR. WALLACE: I'm 15 and starting to get facial blemishes. I want to see a doctor before my complexion worsens, but my grandmother (who lives with us) has convinced my mom to have me "wait and see what happens" before I get medical help.
It's the medical bill that concerns Grandmother. Please tell her and my mother that I need to see a doctor soon. I don't want to have people staring at me because I have a face that is full of blemishes. — Anonymous, Reno, Nevada
MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER: This young lady needs to visit a dermatologist as soon as possible. Taking a "wait and see" attitude would be a big mistake. Her complexion problems are unlikely to improve without medical assistance, and the sooner problems are treated, they easier and less costly the treatments will be.
A healthy complexion for a 15-year-old young lady is of prime concern. Please get her the treatment she needs without delay.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.